I recently noticed that some words can be used in a sentence to literally mean "in terms of".

For example, compare the uses of these two sentences, "He kept his accounts religiously." "Religiously, he was a Christian".

In the second instance religiously means in terms of religion. The first instance is describing an action. And the other is just referencing the root word. Notice that some similar words cannot be a description of an actions. Like "ethnically" you can't do something ethnically. Its only meaning is in terms of ethnicity.

So I'm wondering is there a name for this type of word? the type of words that mean "in terms of blank"

  • I would not say that either use of religiously is necessarily talking about religion. As an adverb, it can also simply mean "scrupulously and conscientiously faithful" in a secular sense, without having anything to do with religion. As in the goalkeeper religiously guarded the net. Partly because of this, I also disagree that it means in terms of. Oct 13, 2019 at 14:48
  • @JasonBassford. Do you see how the second use of religiously could be replaced with "in terms of religion, he was a christian"? that's kinda what im shooting for.
    – Hashbrowns
    Oct 13, 2019 at 19:58
  • You can replace it with that, but that's only one interpretation. Personally, it would not be my first intuition. Also, in terms of is a bit awkward here. If I really took religiously in that sense, I would instead say religiously speaking, in religious terms, or with respect to religion. All of that aside, I really don't know what single word would express that function. You are contextualizing the independent clause—but I think contextualizing is too broad a term to apply. (Although, I'm still a bit unclear on the question, so I can't say that with certainty.) Oct 14, 2019 at 2:56


Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.